Quick Takes: Two Weeks

I fully meant to be part of the blog-hop last week, but, somehow, it escaped me, and this I guess this is a culmination of last week’s and this week’s adventures.

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

I must say it every week, but my time is being swept away from me now, though not necessarily in a bad way. This week, I mostly focused on my schooling. Plus, I’ve not done that much.

~2~

Though, of course, it was the obligatory All Saints Day on Tuesday (1st) and Newman House, the university Chaplaincy in London held a beautiful Mass with the Bishop presiding. It was all very exciting.

alexb_cross_newmanhouse

The Bishop also blessed the new cross out the front of Newman House.

~3~

As it was, I chose not to do anything for Hallowe’en. I’m not much into deliberate drinking when there’s nothing to do or no point, and I have never been into asking for gifts door-to-door. Besides, getting a costume together is something I don’t have the time for, nowadays. Everything is just too complicated at the moment.

~4~

I’ve had experimental participant credit to gather, and it recalls to me my days as a first and second year undergrad. There’s a certain vulnerability at being a participant or other people’s research, particularly if it counts towards a mark or their degree. Nevertheless, within that vulnerability of stepping into something created by someone else, for all that we are ignorant, is an inspiration for my own work. I’ve always been fascinated by the potential experiments one could create to test for all sorts of unique aspects of humanity.

~5~

Tomorrow sees me for the third year at Steampunks in Space, the unique convivial in Leicester Space Centre. With astronomy and space having always been one of my favourite sciences, I love that we get to explore this museum and its exhibits whilst also in some of our best garments.

~6~

Have I been editing? Well, yes, I have. Cathy’s now in Italia, which I suppose is progress, even if I can echo the sentiments I made on Monday about NaNoWriMo.

~ 7~

Cathy opened her eyes one at a time. Dull afternoon clouds, grey-tinged, yet exhausted now of their rain, lay above her. A second passed before she realised that the world looked sickly due to certain goggles pinching the bridge of her nose.

She willed herself to whip them off, but her arms ached. A thousand bruises pinned them to her sides.

7 Quick Takes: Of Work and Play

It’s Friday, which means it’s that time again for 7 Quick Takes, hosted over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

This week has been a hectic one. I suppose it started as it meant to go on. Non-UK people probably didn’t hear, but I bet if you live in the south of England, you would’ve heard about the extensive South Midlands train line closures, resulting in there being only one direct route in and out of central London. I was meant to be on the way back from The Fiance’s in Leeds, aiming to be home by 10pm, with my train pulling in at 9.30.

As it was, I went via Sheffield and that train too was slow, and arrived into St Pancras at 11.45pm. Luckily, taking the tube (<3 London) meant I was definitely home at quarter past midnight.

But still later than I would have preferred.

~2~

Too, I’ve been out of the house most days. I’m almost midway through the Michaelmas term now and that means that I have been trying to keep up with my experimental participation credits. If I can get 5 this term, the pressure will be off me a little next term.

~3~

Then again, there’s the Phonetics. A graded test every week. I don’t object to it, but it a concentrated amount of revision that can/could be problematic. Revision is great for the memory, but our consolidation is somewhat hindered by being thrown new stuff on top of what we are still trying to fully encode in long-term memory. It is the level of study I expect, though. (I pity the first years that they have to do it.)

Image result for ipa

English pulmonic word examples.

~4~

And then there’s syntax.

Which every week involves reading. I am forever thankful I have a day off, otherwise I do not know what I would do in terms of the work-leisure balance.

~5~

Nevertheless, I have God to thank for keeping me on top of things. Often, I wonder where I would be without Him (well: nowhere). There’s just enough of all the elements in my life to keep me pootling along in somewhat good health. Besides, I am constantly thankful that I am where I am now.

~6~

You can imagine, too, that there has been little to no recent editing. Cathy’s finally on her way to the continent (not to be confused with The Continent).

~7~

Head down and slanted to the right, Jonathon’s blue eyes focused, mouth raw but shapely… His voice drowned in a whisper that Cathy had not the time, nor the expertise, to lip-read. A slice of steel spun from his fingers and latched itself onto the dockhand’s shirt-sleeve. It balanced there for a moment before the three of them realised that it had no made an incision.

Yet.

“You, sir, are mistaken,” murmured Jonathon.

“I really do think—”

“No, you will listen to me.” He was deathly quiet. “You have no idea what you are dealing with.

That’s all for now! Have a good weekend.

Beautiful People: H’s Cathy

*gasp* What is this, an actual Beautiful People post on my blog in 2016? I know, I’ve been as lax in keeping up with the writing tag as a printer sans ink, partly because I’ve not tackled any new big novels for a while and instead have been trying to focus on the importance of editing. But since I’m working on it at the moment, about two years from its conclusion, I thought we’d revisit my Steampunk novel H, a tale of ghosts, Italian tribes, and dirigibles.

what is beautiful peple about

Beautiful People is a monthly segment focusing on the fictional people of our novels with the intent of uncovering their little tidbits that although may not come into fruition or play in the novel, round the character into more than a paper cutout. It is hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky from Further Up and Further In.

So, let me once again, introduce you to the lovely, yet audacious, Miss Cathleen Cattoway, betrothed to Squire Alexander Sterling. Or so she hopes…

PAPERFURY

  1. How did you come up with this character?

Horology - CathleenLike most of my character creation, I don’t recall coming up with Cathleen Cattoway specifically. I know I wanted a female main character to look through, someone with brown hair and eyes as a template for her appearance. Confident and not docile to the sexism of the day, but not someone who liked mechanics. Her name was something of a pick-out-the-hat, as I tend to do. It stuck, thank goodness.

  1. Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?

Totally boring here, but no. She’s had to be self-sufficient, and she has been hungry, sure, but never starving.

  1. Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?

Linguistics. That is, the study of language structure. Cathy’s particular speciality comes from translating Latin and Greek, and so she is fascinated by how different languages use different syntax to create different meaning. This also helps her pick out when people are not being so truthful—as she is more likely to hear the false way they are using language.

4. List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.

People thinking she has to need help.

People stopping her from reaching her potential or helping others.

Liars, because she can read them more easily than most.

5. What is their favourite type of weather? Least favourite?

Does nighttime count as a weather? I guess that’s cheating. 😛 Cathy’s favourite time of weather would be blue skies, though not too hot. Her least favourite? Thunderstorm rain.

  1. What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?

I went with Hogwarts house because, although I’ve done numerous Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator tests and read loads on my own type (INFJ here 😀 ), I’ve not had the time to read that much into other types. Since INFJ’s are the rarest, even if my characters do share my attributes and interests, I don’t think if they were to do the test, they would come out so.

I’d say Cathy’s a Ravenclaw. She’s not brave enough for a Gryffindor, is too frank to be a Hufflepuff, and honestly, I see very few traits of hers as Slytherin-y. She aspires to not aspire.

  1. Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?

Well, Cathy would consider the two irreparably linked – her present problems are the small cogs in the machine of the unknown future; if there are present issues, that means that the future is not going to be set out the way she would like it to be.

  1. What is their favourite drink?

Your average Google stock photo

Tea. Definitely. Just your average India Leaf tea, though she was recently introduced to lemon Green tea, and she rather liked it.

  1. What is their favourite colour? Least favourite?

Her favourite colour is a rich maroon or burgundy. She likes the rich reds that can be transformed to taffeta fabrics. Her least favourite colour…I’d say that would be black, simply because it lacks texture and the potential to see other colours through it.

  1. What is a book that changed their life?

Wow. Now that’s a loaded question. I mean, I don’t have a favourite book, and – as Cait herself would say – I am a feelingless Vulcan, whose life has very rarely been changed by a single book, so I don’t know where to start with Cathy. What springs to mind would be the first book she translated: a series of poems in elegiac couplets by Catullus, one of a group of Roman writers known as the ‘new poets’. She would’ve been inspired by the way the poetry is clever and full of imagery – yet, also is poetic in the sense that it does not stick to the poetic boundaries English is forced to.

What about you? Are you in the deep depths of editing at the moment, or have you just started making a new book baby? Let’s chat 😀

Elizabeth Stokoe Talks About Analysing Conversations

Although this TED talk is a year old, I have only just come around to it, and I couldn’t not share it.

This is fascinating, and exactly what I try and think about when I am writing dialogue. It’s also one of the reasons I am drawn to want to understand the pragmatics of Linguistics – that is how and why the use of syntax (sentence structure) and semantics (eg. choice of word and its meaning) differe between those from different backgrounds, in particular different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Have I missed my calling? 😛

Beautiful People: The Resolutions Edition

Hello, blogosphere. 🙂 Today, I’m linking up with Cait and Sky’s beautiful monthly linkup Beautiful People. And this month it’s about the authors – new year, new goals (supposedly). So I guess that makes me a Beautiful Person.

10928109_595959117172101_1450331761_n

  1. What were your writing achievements last year?

I culled and rewrote so many darhlings… I got some industry interest in my novel. I gave two talks to my creative writing group: one about blogging – the other about tradition publishing and querying. I wrote a 16,000-word short contemporary romance. I wrote about 6,000 words of a Steampunk novella. I wrote about 45,000 words and completed a Steampunk novella for Camp NaNo July, then edited some of it.

I did a lot of research.

  1. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year.

Editing, I think. Editing my novel. Editing my novella. Doing some subbing. Tell you? Okay, the premise of my novella, codenamed ASB303:

It’s 1870 and Lady Summer is two months away from completing her MA dissertation study of a brain, kept animated by a jar of its neural fluid. When she stumbles upon an activating tesla MRI machine during some of her night-research, however, Summer is shocked to find her brain hooked up to it. And worse—the monster that forms from it, threatening to destroy the Psychobiology department’s reputation, the lives of the many university students in campus over autumn, and Summer’s precious brain dissertation.

  1. List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

Spend more focused editing time. Listen to more science TED talks/podcasts instead of watching YouTube. Stick to, and be inspired by, a motivational star-chart. Work on more compelling character motivations in scenes, chapters, and arcs. Work on improving first- and early-draft pacing.

  1. Are you participating in any writing challenges?

I’ll do Camp NaNoWriMo in July like I do every year, but I don’t have a specific plan just yet. I have several book ideas, but I’m not pushing them out into the open until I actually have time to write. So I’m not sure which yet I’m going to focus on, whether novel or novella, fantasy or contemporary.

  1. What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

I always have plans to expand, but, when it comes to Critique Partners, my eyes are bigger than my stomach. That is, I took on two new Critique Partners last year and managed to crit some of their stuff without editing my own to send to them; and vice versa. Adding to that, that I neglected my first CP (who got a two-book deal last year!), I’ve decided that I can’t take on any others without neglecting one (or more) arm of what I already have.

  1. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

No, I don’t yet have any plans to read any writing/skill books. I’ve got a couple of Linguistics books and articles to read for uni research, as I will have expectantly for the next three months alongside my textbooks.

  1. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

I’d love to learn more about the MC of my novel’s family, Mr. and Mrs. Masters and their two elder daughters and son. I’ve extensively explored the family history of my other MC/the love interest, but this is because the Costellos’ money makes them more inclined to scandal and foul behaviour. Their morals are twisted by societal success and boasting. Plus, they are more crooked by nature than the Masters who are only seeking to elevate their daughters into better society. The irony!

How do I plan to go about it? Vignettes and scenes. And quite a bit of daydreaming. That always works.

  1. Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

I am currently editing my main novel and going through the rounds with it already, and, although I don’t expect to get my quota in every month with my uni expectations, I hope to continue working on it with similar rhythm. On the other hand, I have a little pile of books waiting to be edited – my YA contemporary murder mystery; my Steampunk novella (which is chapter-by-chapter slowly going through my Beta).

  1. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

Ooh, difficult question. Love that quote, though. I guess I’d like to see more unusual/fantasy university-set fiction. I mean, I’m biased because the aforementioned Steampunk novella is a fantasy set in a fictitious English university town, cogs and all. I have no objection to the boarding school novel, but we always see those, with their narrow halls and fixed staff-set, and we rarely see the insides of universities, where it takes one 30 minutes to get from lecture to lecture and one gets lost in a single building. Or only for contemporary romance.

  1. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

It’s really difficult to say at this stage. Well, no, it’s not, but few of my current wishlist achievements are writing/work related: graduate with a good grade, get healthy, spend a good summer with my darling partner, start post-graduate plans – whatever they end up being. Oh, and write something, read more, and get an agent.

WP_20151205_001

A motivational star-chart (example from November).

That’s me done, then. Now I’m off to read some others in the linky. *waves and skips off*

Quick Takes Friday: Editing and Essays

Well, the term has officially finished for everybody, but I’ve still things to do. Seven Quick Takes is hosted this week by Written by the Finger of God.

seven quick takes friday 2

~1~

Why? Primarily – an essay for Typical and Atypical Reading due on Monday. I’ve really enjoyed this Psychology module for this term because it links nicely into my interest in linguistics. I am learning so much more about the science behind language – about Phonological Awareness and phoneme-grapheme correspondence.

~2~

It’s funny how quickly the year goes, though. Funny to think that my first time of the last year or my undergraduate is over – it’s been three months, but that’s only 12 weeks if one thinks about it. And it feels as if I have done so much, but at the same time, it has been hardly any work at all.

Sometimes, we all need God to ground us in the present day even when we get swept up in our surroundings.

~3~

This week, too (well, last Friday) I had the dance show with my university, which was so much fun. We performed three different strolls from three different eras, the Shim Sham, the Charleston Stroll, the Guaglione.

~4~

There’s no official video of our part or the entire show, but this is one of the original recordings of the Shim Sham, featuring the amazing Frankie Manning, who died only a couple of years ago.

~5~

As such with everything that has been going on, even with the end of term changing my extra-curricula activities, I’ve not had much time for writing. I just have to prioritize, even though it saddens me.

~6~

I’ve been editing my fiction, though, and I’ve made progress with SoS, hopefully to the point of finishing it for now.

~7~

Although I had doubts about this short story, I’ve come to love it, most because of its two voices. With an American character and a Brit, I’ve tried more than usual to vary the way the different POV narrators speak, make observations, and use vocab. It’s been a good learning experience for me in terms of my writing.